1. How are you holding up?
I’m used to being at home, as most of my creative life and work takes place in my home studio. But I find it exceedingly difficult to concentrate, usually spending the morning reading about politics, or for the last two weeks watching the police all over the country reveal themselves as a violent gang that answers to no one (editor’s note: this interview was submitted on June 5th). It’s disorienting. I usually have one intense period of writing or recording in the afternoon, and that’s it. And I’ve decided to not beat myself up about it. The primary goal of 2020 is not to die.
I’ve been walking around the neighborhood like a crazy old man – I live in a part of the city that’s not densely populated, so there’s no one to even avoid. I just put on headphones and set out aimlessly, step after step, losing myself in cul-de-sacs and underpasses. I found an abandoned 1973 purple VW bug, a backyard filled with at least a dozen streetcars, a perfectly preserved bird skeleton laid out like an exotic appetizer on a bed of weeds and trash. I bring a tennis ball and bounce it on the sidewalk. When I get home it feels like I did something.
The primary goal of 2020 is not to die.
2. Has COVID-19 had an effect on my work?
I can’t convene a crew to shoot film. I can’t get my band together to practice. I’ve had multiple shows canceled. I did make a lyric video for my new song “48 49” – again, without ever leaving my little studio. This means my output is largely confined to the incubation period – I’m writing and noodling and putting seeds of ideas under a little soil to see what sprouts up. But it feels confined by the uncertainty about when and how this period ends. Sometimes I tell myself “only an egomaniac would put things out into the world right now”, but I’m devouring other people’s stuff like crazy, so maybe that’s just insecurity. I did a streaming show, a couple of podcasts, that kind of thing. Maybe I should do more.
3. Is there anything you’ve added to your practice that you’d like to keep after this is over?
Yes. I’m forcing myself to just put ideas down – musical or writing – before they’re fully formed. I try to spend a little time each day just throwing stuff against the wall without being judgmental about its quality – just get something down and decide later if it warrants more attention. I think that’s a good habit. I’m going to keep at it.
4. Of the artists you follow, who’s handling this particularly well?
I don’t know about “handling”, but this is the stuff that most recently flipped my wig:
Jerry Saltz. Run The Jewels. Fiona Apple made the definitive stay-in-your-house-and-wig-out record (it took her a long time, but I’m counting it). @dril. My guy Wyatt Waddell. VV Lightbody. A Grape Dope put out the song that sounds the most like my brain feels. And this one by Christina Galisatus! @david_j_roth (not EL’s editor) is the only person writing about the President that’s worth reading. “The Great” on Hulu is excellent. And “The Lighthouse“, now more than ever.
FYI I make monthly Spotify lists for intrepid/mildly interested consumers, so friends of Esthetic Lens are welcome to write me at viciouskixx at gmail and I’ll add them to the list.
David Singer is a filmmaker/musician/writer/composer based in Chicago.
He has directed one feature film, Imperfections, and a short film called Advantage: Weinberg that you can watch here. Recently, his digital series “Incoming” won the 2019 Austin Film Festival Script Competition.
David is also a musician who has released five LPs, both solo and with his band The Sweet Science, and played hundreds of shows around the world. Greg Kot of NPR’s Sound Opinions describes David as “one of the city’s most evolved pop craftsmen of the last decade.” DS&TSS are currently finishing their new record, VICIOUS KICKS, with producer Brian Deck. In addition to his records and whatnot, David is a celebrated composer, having scored projects including August: Osage County (winner of five Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize) and the critically acclaimed Broadway revival of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.
More info is available at DSArrows.com.